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Get Out to Play!

I went to a local indoor playground-type thing with my kids this weekend. They had a blast and I’ll definitely take them back. But sitting there observing was overwhelming for the pediatrician in me. This place has some American Ninja Warrior-ish climbing equipment, a pseudo-rock wall, and a bunch of other climbing and play areas. And I watched the kids, mine and other people’s, for over an hour. So what I’m about to say comes with all of the love in my heart.

Please get your kids out to play more often. Every day, if you can. The lack of physical strength and cardiovascular endurance in these children was alarming. As was the number of kids who were obviously obese. I’m not talking about just overweight. Actually obese. I watched kids who wanted to keep up but just couldn’t because their lack of conditioning was holding them back. It was sad to watch them lag behind their friends and it’s totally preventable.

And once you get them out to play, back off. Leave them alone. Let them play! I saw far too many hovering parents whose kids literally couldn’t function without their parents constant direct supervision. One boy in particular was afraid to climb on the rock wall. And his mother was standing directly beneath him, looking like her heart was about to stop. Look, I get it. Sometimes they do scary things and it makes me nervous. But nothing says “I don’t really believe you can do this” like a hovering parent just waiting for them to fall. Have a little faith in your kids and their resilience.

So to summarize: get your kids out to play and then back off. I promise, they’ll be much happier and healthier that way.

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